Johnny Marr: Adrenalin Baby Live

review marr x1 cong

Live albums can be a bit hit and miss: usually the studio versions are better (though not always — Neil Young live and in the studio is equally interesting).

In this case, Marr live is better than in the studio, at least for his solo work. His debut solo album (The Messenger) was a little pedestrian, his second (Playland) better; live you get the best songs, plus plenty of his excellent guitar work. Without The Smiths he’d probably still be famous but less so, a hard-working cult indie performer with a dedicated fanbase (on a par with Young Knives maybe); the Smiths songs he plays are several leagues above his own stuff.

Not that he’s bad: Adrenalin Baby opens with Playland and The Right Things Right which are both adequate, though the album really takes off with Easy Money, a bit of a classic; 24 Hours is interesting, lifted by some chunky guitar. New Town Velocity is also very good, more New Order than Smiths, and Generate! Generate! is quirkily attractive.

But the Morrissey/Marr tunes — first The Headmaster Ritual then Bigmouth Strikes Again — show the gap between Marr and Marr/Morrissey and, even more so, There Is A Light and How Soon Is Now? There are also covers of Getting Away With It (a Marr/ Tenant/Sumner tune) and The Clash’s I Fought The Law, now described as a “classic” but billed as “The Clash sell out” when it was first released, according to our geriatric Review Corner members.

This album was recorded at Manchester Apollo as well as Brixton and Glasgow Academies.

Is it worth buying? Yes. It concentrates the best of his solo material and throws in some classic covers. He’s got a good voice and is clearly a good guitarist. The venues add atmosphere. All in all: a nice live set.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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